Freitag, 23. August 2019

Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Ranking Campaigns & Characters

Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Ranking the Campaigns and the characters

So I liked Radiant Dawn and Awakening a lot and even Fates was far from being a bad game but none of them really came all that close to being as good as Path of Radiance which was my entry into the series.
Enter Three Houses, the newest installment of the series and the first Home comsole title since the Nintendo Wii.
And. It. Rocks.

I'm not gonna review the game, not "really" at least. Instead I'll take a look at the the 4 different Campaigns (well...3.5) and all the characters (except only the students) and rank them because that's the cool thing to do in the internet and because I don't have to keep out the spoilery stuff.


Without further ado, lets start with:

The Campaigns

4) The Black Eagles / Adrestian Empire

Judging from online statistics, it's far and beyond the campaign most players chose. I don't want to accuse anyone of anything but I will say I would be surprised if the fact that this Group has most of the pretty girls, including the House Leader, wasn't one of the bigger reasons for that.
That's not to say that the Eagles are the weakest team out of the three, far from it, but given that you can recruit most characters into your House no matter which one you choose it's only Hubert and Edelgard who are limited to this route and I'm not a big fan of either.

Edel especially is a character I thought would come off much better in her own route than it others because she's the Villain in every single route except this... but is she even the Hero here?
Even with the Church being turned up from "somewhat suspicious" to "controlled by an insane woman" kind of enemy in this route only it feels like you are playing the bad guys here.
From the first few seconds after you choose this path midway through the Campaign something feels off.
Byleth just grins smugly at Rhea after siding with Edelgard for... not really all that many reasons at this point in the story, later on almost every Student that's gone with you will mention that they are just here because they trust YOU, all the former Students and Colleagues you will have to fight and kill after your side started a continent wide war will question your decision (duh), you are essentially okay with teaming up with the baddest of bad guys (who were the ones turning Edelgards live into a living hell and who actually were the ones who created what she hates and wants to see gone in the first place) in the game who killed your father on the vague promise that Edelgard doesn't like them either (and by the end, there is no proof she ever manages to get rid of them), blatant lies from the new Emporer regarding the real backstory of Nemsis and his 10 Elites or when she blamed the Church for bombing a Stronghold they never bombed, the lack of the battle of Gronder Fields which is a big deal in every other route and was all over the trailers and lastly the fact that this campaign is by far the shortest.

All things considered it feels like a "What if" Storyline rather than something that was meant to be seen the same way as the other paths and Edel is not nearly as convincing as a Heroine as she is as a Villain, especially since Dimitri and Claude on the opposing sides are presented as nothing but good guys throughout.
Dimitri comes off almost more heroic than on his own route since the whole Storyline where he's captured and sentenced to death which transforms him into a bloodthirsty beast for a while, is completely missing and lastly: None of them use Demonic beasts by transforming their Soldiers into them (with one exception were it made a lot of sense plot wise).

On the other hand it's those things that still make the route worthwhile since the interactions with characters outside your team are really intriguing, especially when you have recruited people from other houses who now fight their own friends and family.
Ingrid's and Dimitri's reaction to having to fight Felix (and Sylvain in Ingrid's case) really stand out to me.

3) Black Eagles / Church of Seiros

For most of the Black Eagles Members this just feels right and their explanations as to why they are here just sound more convincing and "in character", especially for the likes of Ferdinand and Petra.

What's pretty nice here is that you aren't at war with everyone else. The Alliance even helps you in secret, the Kingdom would like to join forces with you and your opponents are really just the Empire and Those who slither in the dark uuuuntil the game throws one last level into your face were Rhea suddenly is unable to control her Dragon side and you have to slaughter what feels like half the Order.
It feels tacked on and unnecessary but at least it gives you the nicest day of free roaming the monastery where everyone thinks you are done fighting. Having played two Campaigns before I started this one I knew this couldn't be the end yet (since I was still able to freeroam after all) but for a moment it was just really nice.

I'm a bit disappointed you don't get to participate in one way or the other on the side of either the Alliance or the Kingdom in Gronder Fields especially since it's followed up by a dream sequence that leads nowhere but all in all it's just a really satisfying route to play even though Seteth takes over the role of the Co-Main character which isn't exactly a great fit.

2) Blue Lions / Kingdom of Faerghus

Other than the other routes you barely delf into the lore and overarching backstory of the game, instead it's very focused on the characters and their relationships and personal pasts.
The tragedy of Duscur, Dimitri's childhood friendship with Edelgard and how the betrayal affected him, Dimitri's personal demons born from what happened in Duscur, edelgards declaration of war after being revealed to be the Flame Emperor, capture by his own Kingdom, the loss (or not) of his best friend and how he eventually overcomes it.

Sure focusing on him during his Edgelord phase could be very cringy all things considered but the fact that everyone but him considers it to be an actual problem and that he gets back to his true self make for an interesting devleopment.

We never get to the point were we have to fight those who slither in the dark (well we do but we kill Thalus without knowing who he is) or a crazed Rhea in dragon form.
It's just a well written crew of people, the best house by the way bar none, overcoming hardship and eventually beating the Empire.
The Ending is also the one that has by far the least casualties since it's really just the Empire that gets in the way. No Nemesis Army killing everyone, no dragon Rhea going insane, those who slither in the dark dealt with without even revealing themselves as what they were, etc.

1) Golden Deer/ Lancaster Alliance

Basically the better version of the Church Route, the Golden Deer Route feels much the same in terms of the kind of levels you'll play and the reveals that take place troughout.
Except you learn even more here, including were the legendary weapons come from and how fucked up those who slither in the dark truelly are. (Killing someone with the bones of their relatives is pretty metal but not the kind of thing a Hero would do, take note Edel).

But really this is first and foremost Claude's story. While the majority of the Golden Deer House Characters just aren't terribly interesting or cool (with exceptions) Claude very much is.
He's a Jokester and a master marksman, a capable leader and an awfully good guy all around.
Especially since his dream about connecting people and tearing down walls make him the kind of  Hero we need in Stories in 2019.

Furthermore he gets the most Cutscenes out if all the routes and the last two are just straight up badass.
Even the Ending, while also a bit tacked on, is just a whole lot of fun. Taking down Zombie Nemesis and his 10 elites beats Rhea or Demon-Edelgard any day as far as final fights go.

And now let's do the same thing for ...

The Characters:

(I actually used a ranking tool for this because doing it manually was already a pain with my Mass Effect Character List.)

25 - Flayn

Your average nice and polite "cute" anime girly. Hard pass.
What makes matters worse is that you'll have her among your team no matter what, if only temporary in one case.
While her backstory with Seiros and Seteth is intriguing it somehow doesn't make her more interesting, it just makes her part of an interesting sub plot.

24 - Caspar

Your average overly enthusiastic good boy. Hard pass.
Caspar, much like Flayn for that matter, is always the most annoying person around in every single cutscene. The only reason he doesn't get the last spot is that I enjoyed his interactions with Bernadetta.

23 - Ignatz
His shared backstory with Raphael is pretty cool and ties into the larger political powerplay of the Lancaster Alliance as is the conflict between his own goals and those of his Family.

Apart from that I keep forgetting he exists.

22 - Hilda
The sort of bitchy, sort of not, sort of egoistic, sort of not archetype just isn't my cup of tea. And I don't really like the J-Pop Star look much either. But it would be unfair to dismiss that she is reasonably complex as a character and Claude's line if she is killed in the Black Eagle Campaign lamenting the fact that she didn't fall back as he had expected is the perfect example to show that she was a better person than most think. Still she often annoyed me.

21 - Lorenz
Much like Hilda, probably even more so, he ends up being a better person than one would think and his sort of rivalry with Claude given their roles in the Alliance was certainly fun but looking back there were more instances of him annoying me than those that intriguid me.

20 - Mercedes
Her. Voice. Makes. Me. Angry.
Another character that is a stereotype I usually don't like, namely the overly gentle soul, I found myself surprised on more than one occasion to how much I enjoyed her support conversations with many of the other Blue Lions, especially Annette.

19 - Marianna
The games resident Emo hides a pretty cool backstory that comes with a great paralogue quest. Also: She gets over her constant despair over time.

18 - Hubert
I never felt bad for having to kill him as he is a nasty bastard but that's exactly what makes him stand out among the rest . He's dirt and he knows it. I do like that he reveals the Location of those who slither in the dark. One last noble (and probably first) noble deed.

17 - Linhardt
I actually found his constant sleepyness to be somewhat tiring... get it?...oh well.
But it was the person that came to light when wasn't just about to run off to sleep which I found interesting. A calm, calculating mind that doesn't fall into the trap of being socially awkward because scientists are nerds.

16 - Annette
The "girliest" girl in the Blue Lions house is really just that: A girl. And I say that without any sort of sarcasm. Annette feels like a believable person, has a kinda cute friendship with Mercedes and can be excited without being annoying. And her backstory with her dick of a father (who is still kinda cool) adds so much more. to whats already there.

15 - Edelgard
Yeah, yeah. Keep your pitchfork, I've got my own.
If you have read this far it shouldn't come as a surprise that Edel won't make it in my "Favourite FE Characters ever" list.
I really do like her as a Villain but it was her own route (and to a lesser extent, her fanboys and girls all over the internet) that soured me on her.
Her reasons for attacking the Church are flimsy, her reasons to team up with her real enemy even worse. But I can live with her just being misguided, many great Villains are.
However her own route is trying to portray her as a Hero except when it's not.
She's shown using those around her and twisting the truth to achieve her goals being all ruthless, except when she's not.
It kind of feels like Nintendo realised too late that Fans would want to side with her to the end so they through another path in there hence she feels very inconsistent.

14 - Ferdinand
If you had told me at the beginning that I would end up liking Ferdie as much as I did I wouldn't have believed you but the five year skip really worked wonders. There are still signs of the arrogant brat that was a student of the academy but he grows up to be a decent guy all things considered, especially in the Church route. Also: That long hair after the skip makes him look hella badass.

13 - Ashe
The Blue Lions nice guy (not the internet kind if nice guy M'Lady) is one hell of a bad unit gameplay wise. But hey that's not really what this list is all about.
Ashe is a decent character from the getgo, from his backstory to his ambitions it's all just pretty darn alright. However I very much enjoyed his interactions and reaction to and about his foster-father who is one of the earliest enemies in the game and seemingly hellbent on killing Arch Bishop Rhea.
Despite having to fight against him and taking this duty seriously he vows to be the kind of men he knew his foster father was or at the very least how he perceived him. That's just neat all around, ain't it?

12 - Bernadetta
From the beginning I didn't really know whether I thought Bernie was either super annoying or super funny and I couldn't make up my mind for a long time. But I tell you what she never was: Boring.
While still over the top, her bakstory explains her behaviour as well as possibly and the voice acting is so on point that I couldn't help but start to laugh eventually.

11 - Lysithea
A backstory much like that of Edelgard it's Lysithea's personality that's just much more fun.
Being the youngest student she hates being treated like a kid, despite very much still acting like one at times. But she's one badass kid with loads of interesting support conversations.
Her A rank support with Edelgard was a bit disappointing given all the hype I've seen surrounding it.
Yes it's the only one where she ends up living longer (so I assume) and yes I like that this possibility exists but uhm... her sudden enthusiasm in supporting the one who is ALLIED TO THE PEOPLE WHO TORTURED HER AS A CHILD just feels off somehow.

10 - Ingrid
The resident watchdog among the group of old friends that are the heart of the Blue Lions House, Ingrid is just one cool Lady who wants to become a Knight yet she knows that she'll have to just marry some noble because that's just the world she lives in.
Overcoming this idea (and her racism towards Duscur if her support with Dedue is high enough) make her a badass woman with just enough character devlopment to crack the top ten.

9 - Raphael
Okay so I can hardly argue with character complexity here but I don't have to. A powerhouse in fights, Raphael is just the perfect example of the dumb but well meaning brute archetype and he mad eme laugh a lot. next.

8 - Leonie
Okay let's get that out of the way: Leonie should be the Golden Deer's Archer. Not just the Lance Knight who also shoots arrows every now and then. Half of her supports are about archery, she's the only character to wear dedicated archer gloves and the teams actual archer can't see without glasses.
Let. That. Sink. In.
With that out of the way: Leonie is the Tomboy with Mercenary dreams who looks up to a badass character. That's way up my alley. ALso: Her paralogue mission is hilarious.

7 - Dedue
Dedue, who is at first glance nothing more than the average stoic Bodyguard type, somehow has some of the coolest scenes in each and every Campaign. His support conversation are all throughout good stuff and his reasons to stick with Dimitri just sound really believable.

6 - Dorothea
Doro is just one of the most interesting and fun characters from the getgo. It doesn't take long to see the person under all the smiling and flirting and while she openly admits to just planning to find someone to marry who can keep her safe and fed into her older years she doesn't really come off as cold and calculating since she's just way too nice... when she isn't being all sassy that is.
After the timeskip she is one of those who yearns for peace the most and is gutted about the fact she is forced to fight old friends. Her conversation with Ferdie when they fight on the bridge is just heart shattering stuff.

5 - Dimitri
From everyones favourite son in law to a man barely sane enough to even breath to a humble and reasonable King trying to redeem himself, Dimitri grows from someone who seems to be the most boring house leader at first glance to someone you really root for.
His childhood friendship with Felix, Sylvain and Ingrid is the core of the Blue Lions, his childhood friendship with Edelgard is the core of his entire Campaign which has a really nice pay off.
Betrayal, Redemption, drama, death, love. His story has it all and affects the other House Members more than any other House Leaders story does and his last stand in the Empire Campaign is just really cool.
Shame he dies off screen in 2/4 Campaigns.

4 - Sylvain
Another example of someone who is so much more than he seems to be.
Sylvain is the worst kind of Womanizer. He's also a man with a heart of gold, much smarter than one would expect, a good friend for everyone who needs one, a guy who thinks very critically about crests and nobility and a guy I'd just like to hangout with, really.

3 - Claude
Far and beyond the breakout start among the House Leaders. Even though he has what I'd argue is the worst support cast, a role in the story that makes him seem like an afterthought to some of they keyplayers in the other factions and has my least favourite paralogue mission (out of those I played) his inquisitive nature reveals the most details about the continents lore, his conversations, be that support or not, are always either interesting, entertaining or both and his relationship with the Magister feels the closest.
To Dimitri Byleth is a mentor, to Edelgard they are either a beloved tool or a sort of close ally but to Claude, they are just the best fucking friend in Fodlan.

2 - Petra
That girl is just the most charming and adorable person in the entire game. Petra is a fish out of water who bravely faces enemies, a foreign culture way different to her own and ... language barriers.
Never before have I encountered a character in Fire Emblem games who amde me go "aaaaawww" every time she opened her mouth without being dumb, silly or even naive.
Petra is smart and self sufficient but also caring and inquisitive, determined to lead her own people one day. I couldn't help but feel that deciding to go against the empire felt much more in character for her just as it did for Ferdinand (and Dorothea to an extent) given that she is basically a hostage in the beginning but that doesn't change that I just really like her no matter which campaign I chose.

1 - Felix
The brooding lone wolf whose main interest is getting harder, better, faster, stronger is a character I liked from the beginning. It requieres a bit of digging but his support conversations with pretty much anyone shine a new light on him, especially those that deal with his past as a much more open hearted kid until the thing happened that also changed Dimitri, except Felix never bothered to hide it.
What really made me put him up on the very top was a conversation that only occurs when you recruit him on the Golden Deer Route. Prior to that he spends most of his time badmouthing Dimitri because he knows from the start what's hiding underneath.
However after Dimitri's death, Felix is beyond gutted when you talk to him, lamenting the fact that he couldn't help the person who used to be his best friend so long ago.
Also: If you play a female Byleth and romance the guy you just get the best Ending possible.
Just two badasses in love who spend the coming years duelling each other with smiles on their faces.,
True Love, right there.

So yeah: That's it! Do you agree? Ah who am I kidding, chances are you really, really don't if the online statistic are anything to go by. But hey, it's my list. YOu are very welcome to make your own ;)